Story Submitted By John Sudar

It was the first night of Ramadan, and I was vacationing with friends in Luxor, Egypt. I became separated from my friends and wandered from the corniche that was situated along the Mediterranean Sea; this is where the tourists gathered. I was quite lost. As I wandered, it became clear to me that I had turned myself around and had lost all sense of direction. I continued to walk and realized I was now far from the tourist area, both in terms of topography and in terms of reality: I got the feeling that the area was economically disadvantaged. The houses were clay half domes, very much like what you’d see on Tatooine in the “Star Wars” flicks; several skinny cows lie lolling on the ground. Admittedly, I was scared. “Yes,” I said, “Could you tell me how to get back to the corniche?” “I will,” he replied. “But first come with me. It’s almost sundown and we are about to break fast.” He took me by the hand and we began to walk through the neighborhood. We must have made quite a sight: Here was this little boy leading this six foot four American in shorts and a Bob Marley t-shirt by the hand. We got to his family home. I crouched and went inside. Speaking Arabic, the boy spoke to the assembled family who were seated on the floor around the hearth. He must have explained that he had found this poor waif of a tourist. Through gestures and smiles and claps on the back I was warmly greeted and given a place to sit. When it was clear that the sun had gone down, a prayer was said and we ate delicious food and drank nice, strong tea. Throughout the meal my little benefactor translated between me and his family. (I learned that he knew seven different languages and had acquired none of them in school but rather had learned them speaking with the tourists). After the meal, I thanked them and the boy began to lead me back to the hotel I was staying at. It had gotten cold, and he gave me a shawl to wear to keep me warm. When we got to the hotel, I began to take off the shawl to return to him. He told me to keep it. As a souvenir of this special night. I told him to wait, and I went up to my room and gathered a few of my cool t-shirts. I returned to the lobby and gave them to him, explaining that I knew they were too big but that I thought he might like them. He said he couldn’t accept them, but I told him they were a souvenir of this special night. He thanked me. Before he left to return home I said, “I’m duh. I don’t even know your name.” “Yahya,” he replied. “Mine’s John.” “It’s the same in Arabic,” said Yahya. “Interesting,” I added. “And it means gift of God.”